Thursday 5 May 2016

From the Archive: Whatever Happened to Gertan and Gwendolyn?

It wasn't until recently that I realised regular Carry On supporting actors Gwendolyn Watts and Gertan Klauber were actually married. So here is a blog post looking back at both their careers and their lives away from the camera.

Gwendolyn Watts is instantly recognisable to all Carry On fans. She only appeared in three Carry Ons, all medical-themed films and all classics of their kind. Born in Somerset in September 1932, Gwendolyn made her first appearance in the series in Carry On Doctor in 1967, playing Mrs Barron, wife to Charles Hawtrey's character who was in hospital due to a sympathetic pregnancy! This role was followed, two years later, with an appearance as the Night Sister, again with Charles, in Again Doctor. After a further gap of two years, Gwendolyn returned to all things medical for her last role in the series, as Mrs Kemp, receptionist at Finisham Hospital in Carry On Matron. 

Away from the Carry Ons, Gwendolyn Watts had a long, successful career in films and on television. On film, she appeared in the likes of Sons and Lovers (1960); Billy Liar (1963); The Wrong Box (1966) and The Games (1970). On television, she guest starred in a wide variety of series such as The Rag Trade (1962); The Avengers (1963); Steptoe and Son (1964); On The Buses (1969) and Coronation Street in 1971. Gwendolyn gave up acting in the early 1970s to look after her two young children but returned to the profession in later years. Gwendolyn's sister is actress Sally Watts, who once had a regular role in Coronation Street as cleaner Sandra Stubbs.

Meanwhile, her husband Gertan Klauber was also notching up several appearances in the Carry On series. Gertan was born in March 1932 in Czechoslovakia before moving to Britain and training at the Birmingham Theatre School. He made a career out of playing spivs, minor criminals and dodgy types in a wide variety of British film and television series. He first appeared in the Carry Ons in Carry On Spying, released in 1964. He played a dodgy clerk who interrupts Eric Barker and Richard Wattis early on in the film. Gertan returned to Pinewood later the same year to play one of the slave auctioneers in Carry On Cleo, opposite Warren Mitchell. 

In 1967, Gertan was back again for a role as a ward orderly in Carry On Doctor, famously giving Frankie Howerd a less than welcome rub around with a damp flannel! In 1970, Gertan popped up in several scenes as a French soldier alongside Sid James and Peter Gilmore in Carry On Henry. In 1972, Gertan played the dodgy postcard seller at Elsbells market, alarming Kenneth Williams! Finally, Gertan Klauber made a brief appearance as a German Soldier in the dreadful Carry On Emmannuelle in 1978.

Away from the Carry Ons, Gertan Klauber had been acting on stage and screen since the late 1950s. On film he appeared in The Kitchen (1961); Dateline Diamonds (1965); The Big Job (1965); Up The Front (1972); Octopussy (1983) and Backbeat (1994). On the small screen, he appeared in The Avengers (1967); The Saint (1969); The Sweeney (1975); The Professionals (1980); Blackadder The Third (1987); Inspector Morse (1989) and House of Cards (1990). Gertan Klauber also enjoyed a wide range of roles on stage during his career. These included spells at the Royal Shakespeare Company and the National Theatre, where he worked with the likes of Peter Hall, Glenda Jackson and Ian McKellen. 

Gwendolyn and Gertan married in 1959. Together they had two children - a son, Daniel and a daughter, Holly. Gwendolyn Watts sadly passed away in 2000 at the age of 68 having suffered a heart attack. Gertan Klauber continued to act until 2003. He died in August 2008 at the age of 76. His son Daniel sadly predeceased him. 

Both Gwendolyn Watts and Gertan Klauber typify what made the Carry Ons great. Neither actor ever achieved star status but they were both instantly recognisable faces and ever reliable character actors who put in superb performances over several films. They deserve to be remembered for their sterling contributions to our favourite series of comedy films. 

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